Unless you’ve been living under a rock a la Makka Pakka, there’s a very large chance that at some point in your child’s life you have stumbled upon In The Night Garden. Even if you just caught the last 2 minutes when you tuned in to watch Tom Hardy read the Bedtime Story on CBeebies.
The programme is a total phenomena amongst toddlers and young children and BB absolutely loves it. Wherever he is on the ground floor of our house, as soon as he hears the title music he comes running over, pulls himself up on to my lap and starts doing “round and round” on my hand like the child in the opening credits. It really does soothe him before bed and he sits engrossed for the whole 30 minutes episode.
This weekend I trundled off to Blackheath with Grandma and BB in tow to watch Night Garden Live. There’s a choice of two shows at three different timings and we went for the midday showing of the Pinky Ponk show. BB doesn’t show a preference, but I had a gut feeling given BB’s nap routines at the moment that it was probably the only show that he’d actually be awake for!!
The show is performed inside a purpose built inflatable tent called The Showdome. They have really thought about the audience, the seating is designed so that there is a good view from wherever you sit. There is plenty of space for buggies, they even have umbrellas at the door because the toilets are outside. We didn’t use the toilets or the baby changing area but I hear they’re top notch. I’d say they’ve thought of everything, except there wasn’t a seating area indoors to eat. Luckily the weather was good when we visited so we just sat outside to have our lunch, but on a miserable day that might be a struggle.
Due to circumstances out of my control (My Dad had locked his keys in the car, and their Dog was inside so we had to do a rescue mission en route), our perfectly planned journey was scuppered and we ended up running late. I won’t lie, I freaked out. I really hate being late for anything, let alone BB’s first theatre experience and particularly when his favourite part of the show is right at the beginning. After toying with the idea of going to the 2pm show instead, we decided that we really weren’t going to be more than 2 or 3 minutes late so went for it.
The venue has ample parking, and when we told the parking attendant we were late for the midday show, they ushered us to a spot basically next to the entrance and we sprinted for the doors.
The staff were absolutely incredible, I don’t think I’ve been to an event where the staff were friendlier. Given that this is a pretty strange environment for most children, it was so nice to see a friendly face and staff that said “hello” to the children and took their time with them.
We shuffled in quietly and settled in to a row without trying to disturb any body. BB’s reaction was pretty similar to how he used to be when he first started nursery. He just snuggled in to me with a very tight grip taking everything in.
This was the view from our seats. Considering we were quite high up, it really didn’t feel like it.
BB was absolutely mesmerised. The whole experience was very much a sensory one. The sounds are totally surround, they use illumination and projections so things continue from the stage on to the ceiling and walls. There are bubbles and lights.
My Mum commented that the lighting was lovely, it was dark enough to be soothing but not dark enough that children would be scared. You could still see all around you.
The way the show is performed is fantastic. Characters like the Tomblyboos and the Pontipines are puppeteered by a crew. But you honestly didn’t notice they were there.
Seeing a room full of tiny children watching their favourite TV characters come to life was absolutely magical. The feeling in the room was electric and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many mesmerised little faces before.
We are already planning to come again next year. Thank you Night Garden Live team, you’ve put on a brilliant show!
Makka Pakka running around on his scooter
These light spinners were everywhere and BB loved his. Grandma said she only bought it because so many children had one and she wanted to make sure he wasn’t distracted by everyone else’s, but I think she just wanted it for herself!
Sitting on Grandma’s lap to watch the show.
Finally relaxed enough to want to get a bit closer to the action and have a dance!
Quick stop for pictures!
And time for a picnic before hopping in the car back home